This may sound like a simple concept, but sometimes that which is most obvious is most overlooked. In American Football, for a quarterback to throw a successful down field pass he must throw the ball to where the receiver will be, not where the receiver starts running his route.
But that concept is hardly recognizable in the Church. We like to preach about where we are and where we have been instead of where we need to be, in order to be relevant to where the culture is headed.
In the genre of modern Christian worship music, on average music trends change about every 10 years.
- In the 1970’s Maranatha Music (Calvary Chapel) dominated
- In the 1980’s Hosanna Music dominated
- In the 1990’s Vineyard Music dominated
- In the 2000’s Hill Song dominated
- In the 2010’s Bethel Music dominated
But if you were to ask anyone writing some of the best loved worship songs for these movements, they would have thought at the time that there music would always be popular. No one ever considers themselves soon to be outdated.
The same thing holds true with the church, but on a much larger time scale. On a very oversimplified chart one may document the following:
- You had the protestant reformation
- The rise of main line denominations
- The rise of fundamentalism / evangelicalism
- The rise of the Pentecostal / Charismatic churches
In each group, they always tended to mistrust the new kids on the block as not being necessary as they were already there. Both in terms of theology and music, they share one common theme. God does not revisit the same thing twice.
The dissertation I keep linking to bears out that evangelicalism is dying. Both Millennials and Gen Z see the world through a totally different lens, as all generations do. I highly encourage you to once again see the following lengthy but insightful dissertation by Colleen Batchelder:
I am not saying you must like what the next generation sees as relevant, only that the culture is moving in that direction.
An unspoken theology is that God will create a revival catapulting us back to mainstream acceptance by the public. Over and over again I keep hearing whispers of a new enlightenment or evangelical / Charismatic revival is coming. And over and over again I keep wagging my head in disbelief. This misguided advice wants to revisit the past where the receiver/culture has been, instead of where it is going.
The revival is was never about the theology, it was about the people. I somehow do not see God sitting in some heavenly library celebrating the best theology books ever written. Instead, the Book of Revelation gives glimpse into ten thousands upon ten thousands of people celebrating the Lamb.
- Revelation 7:9-10 ESV – 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Any mention of books were about the people, not their theology:
- Daniel 7:10 ESV – 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
- 2 Corinthians 3:2 ESV – 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.
I learned this a long time ago from hearing John Wimber speak:
- “The message must never change; the methodology is always up for grabs.”
We have confused our message with our methodology. Another unspoken theology is that our method is the message. Our message is Jesus, our methodology is our theology – that which explains Jesus in a way to reach our current culture.
The question before us is do we want to throw a completed pass to the next generation? If so, it is time to stop expressing the good news in the language of the past and start paying attention to what matters most to the next generation of humanity.
So as always, I encourage you to love much my friends, including the people who are to come . . .